Combining chemical and genetic strategies for improvement of growth and yield potential in soybean under drought stress
Sustainable Production
Abiotic stressGenetics
Parent Project:
This is the first year of this project.
Lead Principal Investigator:
Lam-Son Phan Tran, Texas Tech University
Co-Principal Investigators:
Project Code:
Contributing Organization (Checkoff):
Institution Funded:
Brief Project Summary:
By the end of the first year project, the transcriptome analysis of contrasting soybean varieties will aid in the identification of candidate genes that are modulated by ethanol in response to drought. In the second year, we will carry out analyses of selected metabolites and hormones to understand metabolite changes-modulated mechanisms underlying ethanol-mediated drought tolerance in soybean. We will also select the top candidate gene(s) that modulate drought tolerance-associated processes for overexpression experiments and molecular analyses. Moreover, our greenhouse experiment reveals the potential aspect of ethanol application to mitigate drought effects on soybean under field conditions. Finally, our systematic and thorough investigation using contrasting soybean cultivars will help decipher ethanol-mediated molecular responses for improving the drought tolerance potential of soybean under greenhouse and field circumstances.
Information And Results
Project Summary

Project Objectives

Project Deliverables

Progress Of Work

Final Project Results

Drought poses a significant challenge in global agriculture, adversely affecting the growth and development of various leguminous crops, including soybeans (Glycine max). The threat of drought episodes to soybean productivity in the USA has been on the rise, especially considering that only about 8% of the U.S. soybean production area is under irrigation. Consequently, addressing the need to enhance soybean resilience to drought has become a focal point for plant scientists. In addition to biotechnological methods, the application of signaling molecules (SMs) to plants has recently emerged as a promising strategy to combat drought. In this project, we explored the potential of ethanol (Eth) as a promising SM to enhance drought tolerance in contrasting soybean varieties. Our investigation delved into understanding the fundamental physiological, biochemical, hormonal changes and molecular mechanisms modulated by Eth treatment. Furthermore, by undertaking comparative transcriptome and metabolome analyses between drought-tolerant and -sensitive soybean varieties, we unveiled key molecular mechanisms and identified promising candidate genes. This mechanistic understanding allowed us to identify a genetic signature that paves the way for further advancements in soybean drought tolerance through genetic engineering techniques, such as overexpression or gene editing of selected candidate genes. Utilizing cost-effective ethanol at low concentrations ($1.0 for 7.0 gallons of 20 mM Eth) to improve soybean drought tolerance offers immediate benefits to smallholder farmers in drought-prone areas. The approach is both economically viable and low risk, providing a sustainable alternative for improving soybean productivity, especially in regions where advanced technologies like transgenic approaches may not be readily accessible or encouraged.

Benefit To Soybean Farmers

In summary, the results of our proposed research lay the groundwork for a cost-effective and environmentally friendly technology based on ethanol (Eth) application in the U.S. This technology holds potential for countries where the generation and use of transgenic varieties face challenges. Our research conducted under greenhouse conditions highlights that applying low concentrations of Eth (e.g., 20 mM or 0.1%) through foliar spray effectively protects soybean plants from drought. Eth is an affordable chemical, costing only $1.0 for 7.0 gallons of 20 mM Eth. Furthermore, pure Eth is non-toxic and biodegradable, presenting minimal environmental risk. Furthermore, our field study during the early vegetative growth stage underscored that applying Eth through foliar spray significantly enhanced the visual appearance of drought-stressed soybean plants when compared to those subjected to water spray under drought conditions.

The United Soybean Research Retention policy will display final reports with the project once completed but working files will be purged after three years. And financial information after seven years. All pertinent information is in the final report or if you want more information, please contact the project lead at your state soybean organization or principal investigator listed on the project.